Read an article (Stanford research: Inspired by a whirligig toy, … handpowered blood centrifuge) the other day about a group of researchers taking an idea from a kid’s whirligig that spins around as you pull on it and using it for blood centrifuge (Paperfuge) that can be used anywhere in the world.
This was all inspired when the lead researcher saw an electronic blood centrifuge being used as a door stop in a remote clinic due to lack of electricity.
So they started looking at various pre-electricity toys that rotate quickly to see if they could come up with an alternative.
The surprising thing is that they clocked a toy whirligig at over 10K RPM which no-one knew before. The team worked on the device using experimentation, computer simulation and mathematical analysis of the various aspects of the device such as string elasticityin order to improve its speed and reliability. Finally, they were able to get their device to spin at 125K RPM.
They mounted a capillary (tube) onto a paper disk where the blood is placed and then they just start pulling and pushing the device to have it centrifuge the blood into its various components.
Blood centrifuges for anywhere
A blood centrifuge separates blood components into layers based on the density of blood elements. Red blood cells are the heaviest so they end up at the bottom of the tube, blood plasma is the lightest so it ends up at the top of the tube and parasites like malaria settle in the middle. Blood centrifuges help in diagnosing disease.
Any device spinning at 125K RPM is more than adequate to centrifuge blood. As such, the PaperFuge competes with electronic blood centrifuge that cost $1000-$5000 and of course, take electricity to run.
The Paperfuge is currently in field testing but at $0.20 each, it would be a boon to many clinics and remote medical personnel both on and off the world.
Now about that gyroscope…
Photo Credit(s): Childrens Books and Toys; Video from Stanford website